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Taproom Inspirations

Recently, we picked up a backbar cooler off of Craigslist. Since we had to rent a truck to move it to the brewery, we took the occasion to move other things we might need soon, including my table saw and kegerator. First things first, we enjoyed an inaugural beer. This is "Here Be Dragons" our New England-style IPA.

We're finally done with demolition. The good news is that we're left with pretty much a blank slate. The bad news is that we're left with pretty much a blank slate.

How do we go from an empty shell to the taproom of our dreams? There's a two word answer to that question! Road trip!!

We decided to pack up and make the trip to Asheville, NC, the South's beer mecca. With more breweries per capita any city in the Southeast and third in the nation, we figured we could get a great overview of what's currently state of the art in taproom design and details. Additionally, our visit would coincide with the excellent Asheville Beer Expo, where we hoped to meet many industry denizens - brewers, vendors, service providers, and sample lots of tasty beers.

Arriving on Friday evening, we walked from the hotel to the closest brewery - Lexington Avenue Brewery (LAB). Among the notable details were charming distressed brick walls and a bar front that appeared to be made out of barrel staves.

After sampling their excellent beers, we headed over to Wicked Weed to meet up for dinner.

A couple of the finish details that stood out were the bar clad in barn wood and the communal trestle tables with iron bases

We like the idea of trying to incorporate communal tables where people can meet new friends. The wood details in Wicked Weed were really quite stunning. After enjoying their excellent sour beers and a filling dinner, we adjourned for the night.

Saturday morning brunch took us to The Market Place Restaurant. The food, service and beverages were great. I also liked the Edison pendant lights over the bar.

From there, we all met up at Sierra Nevada's east coast production brewery. It was simply stunning - everything about it is over the top. We didn't leave with many ideas of how to incorporate finish elements into our taproom, but we came away with a new appreciation for America's largest purveyor of craft pale ale.

Once we picked our jaws up off the floor, it was off to Burial Beer Co., one of the best breweries in Asheville. We admired their metal sign on the front of their brewery.

Though the bar inside was a tight fit with probably a hundred customers present and the taps located at the far left of the bar. This gave us a sense of the importance of centrally located taps, especially when multiple bartenders are serving on a particularly busy day. It seems every day at Burial is a busy one!

The barrels that supported long tables were pretty cool.

From here, it was off to the Expo. The next day we all met up at Wicked Weed's Funkatorium. We picked up a bunch of ideas visiting this emporium of sour beers. First, we loved metal backlit sign on the building's front.

The communal trestle tables, barn wood faced bar and lighting all stood out. Not to mention the beer!

Outside was a great standup bar made out of reclaimed oak and barrel staves. I'm drinking the Happy Blending which had just been released - barrel aged on plums and nectarines.

We also liked the barrel stave flight holders

Here we are with our friend Scott Carlsen

From Wicked Weed, we walked across the street to Twin Leaf. The open, barrel vaulted ceiling was dramatic.

We only stayed for a short while as our time in Asheville was rapidly dwindling. We made a last stop down the street at Catawba Brewing. Their open taproom and many spaces for gathering were really impressive.

In terms of design detail, we really liked their handcrafted tall bar. Placed against a wall to maximize space and offer a view of downtown Asheville.

Their raspberry sour was excellent.

With that, we headed out of Asheville towards home. We made one last stop at the welcoming taproom of Fonta Flora Brewery in Morganton. We liked their metal tap handles. Also the way it is easy to update the taplist through wood painted with blackboard.

Now that we're back home, we have a bunch of ideas on how to design the taproom to be a welcoming, warm environment. The challenge will be in hitting in on those details that make a difference and are worth investing in now.

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